Community

Financial gap filled for winter overflow shelter in Cedar Rapids

Willis Dady announced temporary shelter open Dec. 1 at latest

(File photo) The Willis Dady Homeless Services shelter in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
(File photo) The Willis Dady Homeless Services shelter in southeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Advocates say they have secured enough funding to cover expenses for a new Cedar Rapids winter overflow shelter.

Organizers of the Community Overflow Weather Shelter announced Wednesday they’ve received enough financial donations to cover this winter’s operations at the shelter, located in an old Salvation Army commercial building at 719 Third Ave. SE.

Officials announced earlier this month the location of the new shelter, which is large enough to house 40 to 50 people. It’s a temporary location that advocates say was urgently needed for the homeless population in Cedar Rapids as temperatures continue to dip below freezing.

The cost for the overflow shelter was twice as much as Willis Dady’s $5,000 budget for the winter season, leaving a $2,800 gap even after donations, said Phoebe Trepp, executive director of Willis Dady Homeless Services.

But with this week’s announcement, that gap has been filled.

“We are thankful for those donors who came forward to help with expenses,” Trepp said. “And really, thankful for this entire community that is so generous and compassionate.”

The Community Overflow Weather Shelter is an initiative of Linn County Continuum of Care, a council of local service providers for low-income residents that includes at least 15 homeless shelters.

According to advocates, the shelter is a harm-reduction model “that pools and leverages existing community resources providing staff, coordination, transportation and equipment.”

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Last year, 470 different people were served by the overflow shelter. The building that housed last year’s shelter was sold, creating the need to find the new location.

Cedar Rapids has approximately 75 permanent beds for homeless people and additional beds for special circumstances.

Trepp said the shelter is expected to open by Dec. 1. Steps are still being taken to prepare the space, including repairs on broken windows, checking plumbing and hiring staff.

Supplies are still needed for the shelter, but advocates are requesting donors wait until the shelter opens to bring items.

Needed items include cleaning supplies, such as laundry soap and all-purpose cleaners, trash bags, blankets, hand warmers, thermal socks, bottled water and portable food that requires no preparation, such as granola bars.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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